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The Hollywood Insider Dungeons and Dragons Movie

Photo:  ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’

There’s no shortage of fantasy-fueled films in the world, but it can be very tricky to create a successful one. Viewers become bogged down by worldbuilding or simply can’t accept the complicated magic systems. Luckily, there’s a new Dungeons and Dragons film that looks more than promising.

Based on the popular board game and rounded out with an all-star cast, ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,’ is set to hit theaters in March of 2023. The upcoming project recently released its trailer at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, accompanied by a panel with its cast. So far, this film has garnered positive speculation and a spot on everyone’s 2023 watchlists.

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This is far from the first time the game has been transformed into a film format, as a film trilogy was released from 2000-2012. This trilogy did not succeed in all the ways one might hope, with the second film being made-for-TV, and the third having a direct-to-video release (which are never syndromes of success for franchises). This upcoming release has been labeled as somewhat of a reboot, though it bears no connection to the other films. Let’s take a look at our expectations for this fantastical journey.

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Dungeons & Dragons – Fantasy Done Right

The original board game has often been labeled as a tool for “nerds” and has been the subject of many unfortunate judgments throughout the years. It reached more mainstream popularity with its significant inclusion in ‘Stranger Things,’ and the world has gained more perspective and respect for anyone who identifies as a nerd. By using the outline and lore of the board game, this work of fantasy is able to feel familiar and laid out, avoiding any negative traps of the genre.

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Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying

Sure, there are creatures some people have never heard of, but it is a fleshed-out world that has wide yet tangible source material. Plus, having an already-established fan base ensures the film’s commercial success, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that opens the gateway to more criticisms from die-hard fans. It’s a common risk studios take when forging adaptations, as you can bet fans want something as close to their perception of the material as possible because that’s why they love it so much. 

Fantasy is so very difficult because you have to instill a sense of wonder in the audience, while maintaining an emotional response through the characters and their journeys. The ‘Harry Potter’ franchise is a perfect example of a story that understood fantasy as a means to create wonder you don’t find in everyday life, while having characters at its center. On a more graphic end, ‘Game of Thrones’ was renowned for its approach of having character dilemmas take center stage, while the fantasy elements played second fiddle. From what we know and see of ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,’ it appears that it will capture the epicness and fantastical side wanted, while making its characters as strong and prominent as possible. 

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Promising Cast, Promising Characters

Speaking of characters, the lineup this project has shared, including the various actors, adds more reason to be excited. For those familiar with Dungeons & Dragons, the game bases its roles on familiar fantasy archetypes, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and dynamics within the story. Leading the ensemble is Chris Pine, who has proven his leading man capabilities time and time again. Pine will be playing Edgin, a Bard; their powers stem from music and poetry. Action star Michelle Rodriguez is playing Holga, a Barbarian. There’s no doubt about Rodriguez’ badassery, and we can expect some intense battles through her character. Next on the list is Regé-Jean Page, known for his breakout role in ‘Bridgerton’ and his recent outing in ‘The Gray Man,’ Page is will be playing Xenk, a Paladin – an archetype of a holy knight. 

Continuing on, and bringing in some younger blood, Justice Smith (who previously starred in ‘Pokémon: Detective Pikachu’ and ‘All the Bright Places’) will be playing Simon, a sorcerer. Sophia Lillis, who rose to fame for her role as Beverly in 2017’s ‘It’ and its corresponding sequel, will be playing Doric, a Druid; their magical abilities are based on nature and animals. The final notable cast member is none other than Hugh Grant, who will be playing a character named: Forge Fitzwilliam (what a fun name!), a Rogue. It appears to be quite the ensemble, and they are embracing the various forms of characters everyone loves to be in the Dungeons & Dragons game. I, for one, can’t wait to see all these actors play off one another and see how their characters work with or against one another throughout the film. 

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Hope is All That We Have

Personally, I have good hopes for this film. I’m not an active D&D player, so I don’t have requirements for how this story needs to capture the essence of the game, but I have a lot of respect for ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.’ Hollywood is at a time where everything is derivative or formulaic, and I think this film is an extremely smart addition to the theatrical release calendar next year. It’s familiar enough for its source material to the game and has great potential to become a new blockbuster hit, so it’s well within Hollywood’s current wheelhouse. However, it appears to revamp the blockbuster approach by giving new characters and new struggles, all the while containing a fantastic universe.

This film is striking the sweet spot between something original and something familiar. It’s original enough that it’s exciting and new, allowing it to open the door to numerous possibilities. Yet it remains familiar and doesn’t trail to become too outlandish or overtly risky. The entertainment industry has been attempting to fill the fantasy void for some time now, with many mediocre projects releasing over the past years, or set to release soon. The hope is that this particular one can rise from all the rest and create something that nerds and fantasy lovers can latch onto while still appealing to the rest of the world. We’ll all just have to wait until March to see how this promising project delivers. 

By Rachel Beltowski

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